A Family Celebration!
What a great Feast Day of St. John Vianney! For those who missed it, we had a wonderful Solemn Mass where our choir sang beautifully and the altar servers and liturgical ministers performed their sacred duties with great reverence. We were blessed to have Fr. Jonathan Raia concelebrate the mass. Fr. Jonathan is a son of the parish and a priest in the Diocese of Austin. We were doubly blessed that I was able to present our newest seminarian from the parish, Michael Noriega. Michael will be leaving next week to begin his theological and philosophical studies at Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas. Michael is the son of Debbie and Larry Noriega. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin like Fr. Clark and Fr. Jonathan (now we need some of the Aggies from the parish to enter the seminary!). Please keep Michael and all of our seminarians and novices in your prayers. We need many more priests and religious sisters. Please keep an increase of vocations in your daily prayers.
After the Feast Day Mass, we had a parish dinner. Unbelievably, we fed more than 1800 hungry souls!!!! I nearly fainted when I went to the Activity Center and saw the huge lines! Here is the unbelievable part – everyone made it through the line in 21 minutes!!!!!! Wow. Like the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, there were left overs! The Young Adults and Youth Formation did the serving, the Knights of Columbus and the Hispanic Community did the cooking (delicious), St. Anne’s had games for the kids, the Music Department led the sing along – you guys can really sing! And the whole thing was wonderfully coordinated by our fantastic Parish Life Department. I made mention to some of the Parish Life staff at the end of the night that not many parishes could do what they did and do it so well. It was simply a great evening and it showed the tremendous spirit of our parish.
It has been a rough year for many of our parishioners and neighbors. I am amazed at how many folks are still not back in their homes following the floods. My unscientific survey tells me that most of those who were displaced are still out of their homes. Please continue to keep them all in your prayers. As I mentioned previously, beginning next month, we will be sending out folks to pray with families. The priests and deacons will come to families’ homes to bless them as they are reconstructed. Details to come. Over the last year, a number of our long-time parishioners who were displaced by the floods have passed away. The stress of losing their homes only added to health issues and infirmity. I ask that we keep these families especially in our prayers. In the recent article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle which highlighted our parish’s efforts to respond to helping those affected by the floods, I made mention that it was our parish’s finest hour. I truly believe that this was the case. Our response during this tragedy was not merely trying to help people in a time of physical need – providing food, clothing, shelter and financial and physical help. What we were doing was living our faith in God. We were acting out of our love of God and one another. In one of the greatest tragedies to affect our community, we turned to God and placed our trust in Him. Doing so, we were compelled to share our love for God in service and care for our neighbor. This past year of helping our neighbors was built upon the foundation of living our faith every day before the floods and since. It was built upon the countless hours of Eucharistic Adoration, the unknown number of rosaries and novenas prayed and the tens of thousands of masses offered over the years. Every single day as Catholics and as members of St. John Vianney parish we proclaim the greatness and goodness of God and His only Begotten Son who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our eternal salvation. We celebrate this at Holy Mass, in our religious studies programs and classes for youth and adults, in our prayer groups, social activities and in our social service ministries. We live our Catholic faith best when we live it not only at church but also in our family homes and as a parish family in the community. It is not “either/or, but rather “both/and”. We are blessed to have our parish to be our family and our fellow parishioners to truly be our brothers and sisters. Like all families, we are not perfect and we have to work at being better every day, but what a family the Lord has blessed us with! Thank you Lord for this beautiful parish family of St. John Vianney!
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately